Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Quest for Objectivity

Why do people get mad when someone expresses an opinion contrary to their own?

If two referees see the same play differently and they have the liberty of instant replay to see the truth, they will usually review the play and one person will concede that their call was wrong.

Unfortunately, we don't have the instant replay litmus test in life, but I'm convinced that if we did, the person who was wrong would be more likely to storm off mad than to concede.

Whey do we have a tendency to thing that people of different views are evil or at least have bad intentions?

I hear this all the time in political discourse. As we are in the final days of the Presidential election, each side is painting the other side as evil. Why can't someone be conceived to be wrong but good intentioned?

Our emotions get in the way of our positions. Our biases get in the way of our judgments. Our hearts get in the way of our minds.

The most important question one can ask in life is What is the meaning of life? This question, if followed logically, leads one down the trail of religion (as well as philosophy). But why is religious discussion such a taboo?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Religion is just an opinion?

I was reading a blog that stated that religion is man's opinion on life's unanswerable questions.

I can't say that my Christian faith is my opinion. If MY opinion were to form my religious beliefs, then I'd believe in a God that had wound up the world but let it go. I'd believe in an ethics of moderation akin to Buddhism and I'd believe nothing about the afterlife except hope that there was a good one for all except for the most wicked (Hitler, child abusers, and mass murderers).

So why do I believe in Christianity instead? Its not because of an opinion that I formed, its because of a God who revealed Himself to me. Not only has He revealed Himself to me, I see Him as revealing Himself throughout history.

Forget about whether or not you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. If we just assume that its the words of men, that is enough to believe in its claims given the alternatives.

What are those alternatives?

If it is a book of lies, the alternatives are founded in the motives of the authors. Did these men write the Bible because they were deceived or because they intended to deceive?

The former doesn't make sense given the improbability of a collective deception. It's one thing to believe that Matthew might have been deceived into believing in this man named Jesus and believing that He was a prophet, healer, miracle worker, savior, even the son of God, but for Mark, Luke and John as well as the writers of the Epistles?

The second alternative is the one that people try to float. It says that the Bible was written as an attempt to gain power.

The church certainly did gain power from the 4th century (Constantine) on. But why does this church look so different from the Christianity espoused in this book? The Catholic church that rose to power was (and still is) very legalistic/ritualistic. If they wrote the power to establish and justify themselves, why didn't they cross out passages in the Scriptures where Jesus was so harsh to legalistic/ritualistic religious leaders (the Pharisees and Saducees)? And why did the church evolve to an organization that discouraged its masses to even read the Bible, thus becoming the very catalyst for the Protestant reformation?

So I'm left with multiple witnesses claiming that there was a man (if He can be called a man) who lived on this earth who claimed to be the son of God and authenticated His claims by doing things no man could ever do, in the form of supernaturally healing sick people, giving sight to the blind, walking on water, feeding multitudes of people with just a handful of bread and fish, resurrecting people from the dead and then resurrecting Himself!

This is not simply an opinion given these facts. This is the only reasonable conclusion that I can hold given the facts. Do you have a better interpretation that I am not considering? Then please reply to this blog. Absent that, I'm only left with a God who has revealed Himself to all of us throughout history.

If you reject Christianity, how do YOU explain these things away?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Edge of My Questioning

One morning, as I was walking out of the house to go to work, I saw a huge spider web. My first thought was that God had "commissioned" the spider to do what it was doing. But then I thought about the fact that the spider was trying to catch flies. One could argue that God had commissioned those flies to do their thing also.

Why would God give those flies a purpose but give the spider the purpose to be their natural predator? Does this mirror how God might treat the rest of His creation? Does God tell you and I that He loves us and is on our side, but then create enemies to hurt us?

On a human scale, why do bad things happen to good people? Why does a seemingly good person get cancer and die? Why does a little child get sexually abused or drowned by a mother that is supposed to love them? Is there anyone more innocent than a little child?

Am I even asking the right questions here?

But here is where my questions lead me. There is an evil force (or being) that wields significant influence and control over our world. One could therefore argue that this force is God and that He is evil or has a dark side. However, this contradicts all of the good that we see in the world.

One might say (as I have heard by people before), that the world is full of contradictions so why not believe in a god who has an incoherent nature? In other words, why not believe in a god who is both good AND evil in contradiction? To such a questioner, I ask them whether they want an answer that is also free of contradictions....

We can't even engage in a discussion, let alone an argument, if we abandon reason. So I hold on to it as I proceed.

I mentioned the innocence of a little child. Just look at a newborn baby. Can anyone say that a good God didn't create it?

So a bipolar God doesn't make sense. It blurs the lines between good and evil, where good is supposed to be the essence of creation being used for its intended purpose.

So the only other option is that there is another being in the world that is evil. The scary part is that this being (what Christianity calls "Satan") might have more power than we often suspect. He might have the power to turn the spider against the fly as well as the mother against the child.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Keeping Our Emotions Out of the Way

A good worldview will lead to good politics so I'm not telling you how to vote. Rather, my goal with this blog is to inspire you to think boldly and honestly.

With McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his VP running mate, one criticism being cast is that such a pick will not sway Hillary voters.

But there are two types of voters (and thinkers). One type has a worldview and the other doesn't. I can tell the difference when I hear each type of voter defend their positions. Whether they are defending the conservatism or liberalism, the person with a worldview will use logic to support their presuppositions, while the other type will use emotion, often peppered with ad hominem attacks against the other side.

The worldview voter isn't likely to change their ideology based upon any political advertisements, speeches or a VP running mate choice. So the only voter in play is the emotive voter who doesn't have a clear worldview, or at least not one that transcends themselves.

This is the swing voter. Although up to this point, I've been claiming that this voter doesn't have a worldview, they really live in a worldview that revolves around themself. This is why they make choices based upon their emotions. Their world is too small. We all revolve around them and their feelings.

There is an emotive voter that supported Hillary merely because they empathized with her. They felt "one" with her. This is the voter that the Sarah Palin nomination could pick off.

This blog is not about politics. I only use politics as an example to point to the larger picture. Are you choosing a worldview based upon how it makes you feel?

The only axioms in life are taxes, suffering and death. It is not beyond coincidence that these undeniable truths are all negative. Does your worldview inconvenience you at some point? Does your view of the world cause you to believe things that you DON'T like? If not, how can you say that it reflects the only reality that we know?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Cause of Faith

Faith is a cause, not a result.

Faith is a doubt that causes us to ask questions. It is not the result of a spiritual world that is unknowable.

Faith asks us to think. It is not an excuse to throw our minds away.

Answers do not threaten faith. Answers only lead to more questions.

"Mommy, what is that?"
"Its a Zebra"
"Why does it have stripes?"
"Because God made it that way?"
"God? Who is God?"

The question of God is an eternal question about an eternal being. Is is the question that will not go away no matter what we learn about its answer.

It is the goal that always stands ahead of the runner. A goal if obtained, removes the very joy of running.

Faith is hinged to God's revelation. He has spoken. He speaks mysteriously, forcing the questioning process.

Reason necessitates faith. It sets boundaries in faith's name.

Are you listening to the questions?
Are you thinking about the possible answers?